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Assessment Title: Understanding the principles and practices of assessment

1.Explain the function of assessment in learning and development

2. Define the key concepts and principles of assessment

3. Explain the responsibilities of the assessor

4. dentify the regulations and requirements relevant to the assessment in own area of practice

5. Compare the strengths and limitations of a range of assessment methods with reference to the needs of individual learners

6. Summarise key factors to consider when planning assessment

7. Evaluate the benefits of using a holistic approach to assessment

8. Explain how to plan a holistic approach to assessment

9. Summarise the types of risks that may be involved in assessment in own area of responsibility

10. Explain how to minimise risks through the planning process

11. Explain the importance of involving the learner and others in the assessment process

12. Summarise types of information that should be made available to learners and others involved in the assessment process

13. Explain how peer and self-assessment can be used effectively to promote learner involvement and personal responsibility in the assessment of learning

14. Explain how assessment arrangements can be adapted to meet the needs of individual learners

Principles and Requirements of Assessment

Assessment in education refers to the variety of tools and methods available to the educators to enable them measure, evaluate and document various aspects of the learner including learning progress, education needs of students, the academic readiness of a student and skills acquisition. (Harlen 2013). An educator uses assessment as a gauge to measure what the skills levels of the learner and then use the results as a guide as he or she prepares the content of the next learning phase (Johnson 2012). The Purpose of assessment is two-fold: bring improvement to how the learners acquire education and to improve the process of teaching (Harlen 2012). Assessment is not an event, rather it is an iterative process which can be thought of as a cycle of activities. The assessment cycle includes activities such as setting of the assessment program outcomes and goals, developing and implementing strategies for the assessment, review of the assessment data and creation of an action plan

Initial assessment refers to the first tests administered to a learner for the teacher to know the skill levels and the learning gaps of the student to guide the teacher in preparing the content for the next phase of learning.  

Formative assessment is basically evaluative assessments carried out at various points in the course of the learning program to gauge how well the learning process is taking place. They are not graded, and often they are done informally (Gardner, Harlen, Hayward, Stobart, & Montgomery 2010). The educator uses formative assessments to evaluate whether there are gaps in the learning process so that the teacher can change the teaching process or the learning materials to suit the learner.

Reliable refers to the consistency of the assessment in that an assessment should provide comparable results irrespective of the time that it is carried out. On the other hand, Validity in assessment deals with the aspect of accuracy, meaning that the assessment should measure the aspect it was sat out to measure (Kimbell, Wheeler, Miller, & Pollitt 2009).

The Evidence used in the assessment should be authentic, current and sufficient. The authenticity of the evidence refers to the issue of whether the evidence provided by the learner originates from him/her. The evidence must cover most of the areas identified, and be applicable to a variety of contexts before it can be considered as sufficient. Finally, the evidence should relate to industry or practice, meaning that the learner can relate theory and practice in the real world.  

Types of Assessment Methods and Planning Assessment

Transparency in assessment means that the teacher ensures the process is objective and open to scrutiny by anyone. Transparency is one of the most important aspects of validity and reliability as another assessor can replicate the assessment and get results which are similar to the ones obtained by the assessor.

The assessor plans the assessment process, communicates the assessment requirements to the learner, conducts it, compares evidence with set standards, provides feedback to learners and is involved in the standardization processes. My responsibilities as an assessor mainly involve communicating the assessment requirements to the students, conducting the assessment, comparing evidence with set standards and providing feedback to the learners.

We have standardized assessments formulated by the relevant departments in the ministry of education and my main duties in the assessment process start with informing the learners of the assessment, expectations and what it will be testing. Without the learners understanding the specifics of the test and the expectations, the assessment will not be valid.

My next responsibility is carrying out the assessment in such a way that it is objective, transparent and fair. Any other assessor can go through the same process that I have used and come up with similar results.

Once the assessment is conducted it is the duty of the assessor to give the feedback to the leaners on their performance and areas of improvement. In the process, the learner identifies the areas of weaknesses in his performance and possibly identifies the issues that came up during the assessment. The feedback process can provide the assessor with valuable information on improvements to the process.

Data Protection Act (2003) stipulates the procedures for collecting, handling processing, dissemination and storage of private information. The Act protects the data stored either in manual or electronic files. Dealing with learners means that there will be private information collected and stored and thus the assessor should endeavour to ensure that the data is in safe hands at all times.

The information at our disposal is kept secure and protected using passwords in case the information is online and under lock and key in cases where the information is contained in manual files. The team leader has express instructions to provide an opportunity to any learner who feels the need access the files to know the kind of data we have on him or her according to Freedom of information act (2000).      

Involvement of Learners and Others in Assessment

The online sphere is a very sensitive area and the institution I work for ensures minimal sharing of personal data. The information shared online is limited to only that which the partners need. In sharing and processing of the learners’ information, the organization is guided by the various Acts dealing with issues of ethics concerning such activities including Qualifications and Credit Framework (2008), Health and Safety Act (1974), and the Equality Act (2010),  

The institution adheres to the principles outlined in the Children and Young People’s Act (2008) and Children’s Act (2004) concerning the care and reduction of harm to the children, and provision of care that is sensitive to their needs and their station in life.            

In a learning institution, there a wide range of methods of assessing the learners including written assessments, Observation Questioning and project. Each of these methods has strengths and weaknesses which makes it important to use a combination of methods in order to get reliable results.

At the end of the learning program, the learner may produce an object such as creating a website, which the assessor may use as evidence of the results of learning in the particular unit. The learner can use the product in future as proof of competence in a certain area at a situation such as a job interview.

The drawback to work product is that sometimes the product may be difficult to produce and assess and it also takes a lot of time. The processes of producing the final work product may make the work of the assessor difficult especially in group work and in cases where each of the milestones in the production processes is not adequately documented.

Simulation provides the student with the chance to engage in real-life work in a controlled and patient way. In the simulation the learner is able to demonstrate to the assessor the practical skills he or she has learned at the end of the unit, skills which will be transferred to the real workplace.

Simulation has one main drawback: the leaner may not take the situation seriously making and may result in a faulty assessment. At the same time, the simulation, however perfect, will not cover all the arrays of issues in real life work thus giving unauthentic experiences.         

A written assessment is one of the most common assessment methods and it provides the learner with an opportunity to present what they have learned and understood throughout the learning process in text format.

Data Protection When Dealing With Learners' Information

The main drawback to the written method is that there are people living with disabilities such as dyslexia who would struggle with providing evidence of their learning through text format.

Observation involves video coverage of the learner participating in an activity which is part of the unit. Video provides one of the best assessment methods as the observer is able to rate the performance of the learner on the task and be able to gauge how much has been learned and even note improvement areas.

 There are drawbacks to observation assessment, chief among them being the fact that it is time-consuming. Another drawback is that some learners may feel pressured and may end up reacting contrary to the learning outcome being assessed.    

The readiness of the learner

The learner should have had sufficient time for learning and revision. Also, the teacher should ensure that learner is thoroughly prepared including having given the student various formative tests throughout the course/unit and being satisfied with the progress of the student every step of the way.

Giving the student summative assessment at the start of a course would be as useless as assessing the learning needs of a learner who has gone through a course and is waiting for the summative assessment. Each of the assessments should, therefore, be carried out at the appropriate time. Location and Resources

The assessment should be carried at close proximity to the necessary facilities and equipment. For assessment that require videos and accompanying facilities, it would be better to perform the assessment in a studio.

One of the benefits of holistic approach to assessment is that it offers the student a multifaceted evaluation with the ability to provide a textured and nuanced approach to the learner’s progress.

In the Holistic assessment, the assessor considers all the aspects of leaning rather than focusing on one or two aspects. The advantage of holistic assessment is that it captures the whole spectrum of the competence that a learner and in the process solves the bias that results from focusing on a single aspect of learning. In the holistic assessment, the assessor considers all the aspects of performing a task and determine the array of competences that a learner need to have to be able to perform at the task. The assessor then endeavours to get evidence that proves that the person has those competencies. Other benefits of using the holistic assessment include the fact that it lowers the cost of carrying out the assessment; reflects real-life experience at the workplace, and provides the assessor with more evidence opportunities.         

The first step in the planning process of holistic approach to assessment is doing visiting the main examining body’s website to get criteria that can support in the design of the assessment to cater for all the points on the outcomes list.

The next step involves constant communication with the students questioning them on the various aspects of the course to collect views on what they expect to learn. The questioning shape my understanding of their expectations and helps me to tailor appropriate learning and holistic assessment procedures which cover all the areas.

After getting sufficient feedback from the learners, I start preparing the assignments in a sequential manner such that they are linear and fluent. The assignments start from classwork progresses to research and ends up with the industrial application of knowledge.

Classwork assessments mainly involve formative assignments which gives me an idea of what the learner has acquired from a certain issue, and it is usually in form of questions from the particular unit or issue. As the learner gains more knowledge, I provide topic for the learners and they have to write a substantive essay that relates to the content of the unit.

On health and safety, the assessment of the learner does not expose them to risks as the assessment procedures are fairly harmless.

One of the risks to the assessment is the issue of excessive stress on the learner which leads to getting a faulty result. To reduce the problem, I try to ensure that the assessment procedures are clearly spelt out and thoroughly understood by the learner have noticed that as one constantly communicates with the learners on the assessment, they tend to calm down thus removing the risks associated with stress and pressure of the assessment.    

 Another risk to the assessment involves fraudulent activities during the assessment leading to inauthentic evidence. Some learners may collude with and get undue support from other people making the results of the assessment not being a true reflection of the learner.

Presence of Quality assurance involving external and internal Verifier prevent the problem of bias and can figure out cases of collusion and inauthentic results (Gardner, Harlen, Hayward, Stobart, & Montgomery 2010).

Engaging the learners and communicating with them provides avenues where they can air out their concerns thus reducing the fear and stress associated with assessment.

Careful standardized assessment procedures and logs ensure the system is clear and the actions replicable by other assessors as part of the quality controls leading authentic verifiable results (Mc Sweeney 2010).  

Involving the student creates transparency in the process and he or she is able to relate with the process and even support the assessor by providing the evidence themselves (Harlen 2012).

Involving the learner makes them own the learning process which helps them work towards achieving the best in the process. At the same time, ownership of the learning process motivates the learners to be proactive in making the assessment process easy (Phelan, Choi, Vendlinski, Baker, & Herman 2011).

Involving the learners make them comfortable enough to be open to the assessor in case they find that there are issues that may affect their learning progress (Crossouard 2012).

At some point during an assessment, I realized that one of our students was not a native English speaker and his deficiency in fast deciphering the content of the assignment parts was slowing him down. Luckily, there was an expert in our assessment team who was able to walk with learner to the end of the assessment.   

The first set of data that a learner needs is on assessment standards and criteria, which arms the learner with the knowledge of what is expected of them.

In my practice giving the learner information on the types of evidence required and how the evidence will be collected ensures allows them to focus which makes the process of collecting evidence fairly easy.

 It is crucial for the assessors to explain to the learner the use of assessment outcomes and records as some may believe that they will be used to condemn them to education oblivion and may thus engage in unethical behaviour like collusion resulting in inauthentic results.

In Peer assessment, the students assess each other while self-assessment is where the learner sets the goals and assesses his or her progress towards them.  The significance of the above processes is that they make the learner own the process which makes it easy for the trainers and assessors to do their work. Peer assessment has the added advantage of letting the learner gauge his or her achievements against their peers which might motivate them to work harder.

Through self-assessment and peer assessment, the learner is able to engage fully with the assessment criteria and can reflect more deeply on his or her learning. This encourages the learners to take more responsibility for their learning and assessment and in the long run they get to appreciate the content of their learning leading to them owning the process which improves the assessment outcome.     

The language barrier is the most significant threat to effective assessment, especially in a multilingual society. The assessor should have effective translators to ensure that there is no misunderstanding either on the part of the learner or the assessor.

The assessment setting should be neutral regarding religious and cultural issues, and the assessment should be adapted to minimize bias on the basis of the two issues. It is always prudent to avoid terminologies that are specific to a certain religion as it would alienate the members of the other religions thus negatively affecting the validity and reliability of the assessment results.        

During the assessment, special considerations should be given to students living with Physical Disabilities. For instance, the assessment room should be easily accessible via a rump or a lift making it easy for people with physical disabilities to get to the room conveniently.      

References

Bennett, R., 2009, Formative Assessment: Can the Claims for Effectiveness Be Sustained?” Educational Testing Service https://www.iaea.info/documents/paper_4d5260ae.pdf 

Bennett, R.E., 2011, Formative assessment: a critical review. Assessment in Education, 18(1), 5-25.

Black, P. and Wiliam, D, 2009, Developing the Theory of Formative Assessment. Educational Assessment, Evaluation and Accountability, 21:1. https://teacherscollegesj.edu/docs/47?  Developingthetheoryofformativeassessment_12262012101200.pdf

Black, P. and Wiliam, D., 2012, The reliability of assessments, in J. Gardner (ed.) Assessment and Learning. London: Sage, 243-263.

Briggs, D.C., Ruiz-Primo, M.A., Furtak, E., Shepard, L. and Yin, Y., 2012, Meta-analytic methodology and inferences about the efficacy of formative assessment. Educational Measurement, 31(4), 13–17.

Care, E. and Griffin, P., 2011, Technology in assessment: Teaching and assessing skills andcompetencies for meeting the demands of the 21st century. ACACA Conference: Assessment for learning in the 21st century, 3-5 August 2011, Brisbane.

CCEA/ELB, 2009, Assessment for Learning Action Research Project. Belfast:CCEA. Available from (https://www.nicurriculum.org.uk/docs/assessment_for_learning/AfL_A%20Practical%20Gui de.pdf) [Accessed 19 November 2018] (Internet).

Clark, I, 2011, Formative Assessment: Policy, Perspectives and Practice”, Florida Journal of Educational & Administration Policy, 4:2. https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ931151.pdf

Crossouard, B., 2012, Absent presences: the recognition of social class and gender dimensions within peer assessment interactions. British Educational Research Journal, 38(5), 731-748.

Dunn, K. and Mulvenon, Sean W, 2009, A Critical Review of Research on Formative Assessments: The Limited Scientific Evidence of the Impact of Formative Assessments in Education. Practical Assessment Research & Evaluation, 14(7). Available: https://pareonline.net/getvn.asp?v=14&n=7 [Accessed 19 November 2018]

Gardner, J., Harlen, W., Hayward, L. and Stobart, G. with Montgomery, M., 2010, Developing Teacher Assessment. Maidenhead: Open University Press.

Harlen, W., 2012, On the relationship between assessment for formative and summative purposes, in J. Gardner (ed.) Assessment and Learning. London: Sage, 87-102.

Harlen, W., 2013, Assessment and Inquiry-Based Science Education: Issues of Policy and Practice. IAP. https://www.lulu.com/content/paperback-book/assessment-inquirybased-science-education-issues-in-policy-and-practice/13672365

James, M., 2012, Assessment in harmony with our understanding of learning: problems and possibilities, in J. Gardner (ed.) Assessment and Learning, 2nd edition. London: Sage 187–205.

Johnson, S., 2012, Assessing Learning in the Primary Classroom. London: Routledge.

Johnson, S., 2013, On the reliability of high-stakes teacher assessment, Research Papers in Education, 18(1), 91-105.

Kimbell, R., Wheeler, A., Miller, S. and Pollitt, A., 2009, E-scape Portfolio Assessment Phase 3 Report. Department for Education, Goldsmiths, University of London. https://www.gold.ac.uk/teru/projectinfo/projecttitle,5882,en.php

Mc Sweeney, K. 2009. Generating more Effective Learning using Assessment for Learning Principles Part I, Home Economics Matters, Edition 2. Available from 18 (https://homeeconomics.slss.ie/resources/c/8/10/Home%20Ec%20Matters%202.pdf) [Accessed 19 November 2018].

Mc Sweeney, K. 2010. To Marry or not to Marry Formative and Summative Assessment. Peer reviewed paper NAIRTL Conference Proceedings 2009.

Mc Sweeney, K., 2010, Generating more Effective Learning using Assessment for Learning Principles Part II, Home Economics Matters, Edition 3. Available from (https://www.slss.ie/resources/c/1517/Home%20Ec%20Issue%203.pdf) [Accessed 19 November 2018].

Phelan, J., Choi, K., Vendlinski, T., Baker, E. and Herman, J., 2011, Differential improvement in student understanding of mathematical principles following formative assessment intervention. The Journal of Educational Research, 104(5), 330-339.

Reed, D., 2012, Clearly Communicating the Learning Objective Matters! Middle School Journal, 43:5 https://web.a.ebscohost.com/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=9df744b4?73d5?47b9?8993? 07f9fd8adca0%40sessionmgr4001&vid=5&hid=4214

Skamp, K., 2012, Trial-teacher Feedback on the Implementation of Primary Connections and the 5E Model. Australian Academy of Sciences. https://www.science.org.au/primaryconnections/research-and-evaluation/teaching-ps.html

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